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Rome Reports

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Pope does not change norms on celibacy

In October, after three weeks of discussion in the Vatican, 128 out of the nearly 175 bishops asked the pope to allow the ordination of married men as priests in remote areas of the Amazon region.

Synod Relator General
"While reaffirming the great value of the charism of celibacy in the Church, it won't be touched; in the face of great need, the vast majority of the Catholic communities of the Amazon, requested that the path to priestly ordination of married men who inhabit them be opened for their communities."

Pope Francis faced the issue before the Synod, but he had left the question open to dialogue.

January 27, 2019
A phrase by St. Paul VI comes to mind: 'I prefer to give my life before changing the law on celibacy.' There would be some possibility (to change it) only for remote places, like the Pacific Islands. It is something that must be considered when there is a pastoral need, the pastor must think of his faithful ones.”

Now Pope Francis has announced his definitive answer in the document, “Querida Amazonia,” or Beloved Amazon in English. It also addresses many other important questions concerning this region.

The pope asserts the Christian life of the inhabitants of the Amazon is not enhanced by making priestly ordination easier. Rather it's that lay people, especially women, religious and permanent deacons "assume important responsibilities for the growth of communities." This mean that are part of a parish community.

The Holy Father remembers the laity can “proclaim the Word, teach, organize faith communities, and celebrate some sacraments,” such as baptism.

He emphasizes that in many remote areas, faith continues thanks to the irreplaceable work of women. That is why he rules out the possibility of instituting the diaconate for women. He says it would “clericarize” women, inferring they only count and can make a difference if they receive a sacred order.

To increase the presence of priests in the region, he asks for generosity, especially from the seminarians in Latin America. He desires a part of their formation includes how to dialogue with Amazonian cultures.